Vonnegut, time travel and motherhood

Every night I read to Loulou, while nursing her to sleep. I have already read to her a series of children’s books, but since I am going to read them many more times to her, I thought it’s totally fine to just read out loud the books that I actually enjoy. Yes, I put my daughter to sleep reading adult fiction to her. It is a great way to actually read some books while still being a decent mother and getting some work done (you can play a drinking game with that paragraph. Just drink a shot every time you see the word “read”.)

The last book I read to her is “Slaughterhouse 5” aka “The children’s crusade” by Kurt Vonnegut. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is an amazing book with great plot and tons of food for thought. I am not going to spoil it for you, I will just say that it is a book mocking the absurdity of war and that some aliens are involved as well. The aliens, called Tralfamadorians, teach the main character, Billy Pilgrim, how to travel in time. According to them, every moment of our life already exists, which means that we can travel back and forth in time. This is a great concept, as it makes death much less scary. You are dead one minute, you are alive the next one. Simple as that.

Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse 5

As I was reading Slaughterhouse 5 and Billy Pilgrim’s time travels, I realized how much more I travel in time, since I had Loulou. I feel that I am really lucky and have lived a great life so far, which explains why I often travel to the past, to re-live enjoyable / passionate / legendary moments. I also travel in time when I am having a not-so-great day, in order to remember that I had much crappier days in the past and this too shall pass.

Since becoming a mother though, I travel in time in two more ways.

I travel with all my senses and it really feels as if I am reliving the moment. Well, according to the Tralfamadorians, I probably am. It feels like that because whenever I visit my childhood memories, I see them again from a child-perspective, while being able to understand my parent’s perspective at the same time. So, here is how it works: I see Loulou super-focused on one of her toys or -most likely- a breadcrumb on the floor. She can stay there for 10 minutes, watching that bread crumb and picking it up and turning it around and of course putting it in her mouth.

Before becoming a mom, I had mostly forgotten how childhood really feels. The vodkas during my college years have probably temporarily blocked access to my earlier memories or something. I would see babies and kids and think that they are fun (well, mostly funny in a weird way) and that would be it. I don’t know what happened when our daughter showed up, but I can suddenly vividly remember how looking at a breadcrumb for hours really feels. I can also remember how upsetting it was when I was throwing a temper tantrum -which of course for me it was really major drama, not a tantrum- and my parents would try not to laugh in my face. You see, at the same time I understand my parents and I remember the depth of my own drama at the moment. And I try hard not to laugh when Loulou has thick tears streaming down her cheeks just because she is too sleepy but doesn’t want to sleep.

The second new way of time travel for me is visiting the future.

Crazy, right? Ok, to be completely honest, I am not exactly visiting the future, but more like dreaming about it much more often and in more detail. When I was 20, I would probably dream of crazy travels to far away destinations or the glorious career that I would have but mostly my dreams were short-term (“I hope that cute guy will be at the bar this Friday”) or absolutely vain (“I need to write a book and/or build a building and be famous and give interviews”). Even though I still find these dreams excellent, now, when I travel into the future, I have a much more detailed and realistic approach. For example, I will not just dream about our new house. I will also dream about Loulou’s daycare, how nice her teacher will be, how great my writing workshops will go in the new neighborhood, how happy N. will be with a shorter commute. Of course, when I visit the future, I also see all the things that go wrong. The over-priced moving company, the lost moving boxes, the bully at the daycare, the careless drivers, the high rent. I know what you are thinking. This is not time travel. It is just mature, detailed life planing. Well, I am sorry but I say you are boring and it definitely is time travel. After all, as with any other travel, if you don’t choose your destination, how the hell are you going to get there?

Do you time travel often? Where do you like to go the most? Past? Future?I would love to real all about your adventures in the comments section.

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